Business news

U.S. companies and the U.S. government have long complained that China purposely undervalues its currency to maximize its exports. But on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner offered some praise to China for making its currency more responsive to market forces.

It was international news recently when a small fishing boat was found adrift in the Pacific Ocean, several hundred miles from the Panama town where it launched. After 28 days at sea, only one of the three men who had been onboard was still alive. The other two died from lack of water and exposure.

This story is part of our series on money in politics.

We imagine the lobbyist stalking the halls of Congress trying to use cash to influence important people. But it doesn't always work that way. Often, the Congressman is stalking the lobbyist, asking for money.

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday on a GOP measure to cut taxes on small businesses.

Now, the mental image most of us have of a small business is probably something like this: a handful of employees, a shop, maybe a restaurant or a little tech firm.

It turns out the reality of the nation's 28 million small businesses is, in many cases, quite different.

House Republicans say their tax cut would help millions of small businesses.

Benjamin Davies, a urologic cancer specialist, doesn't mince words.

On Twitter today, the good doctor said he would fire on the spot any medical resident who biopsied the prostate of an 81-year-old man.

And that would include Warren Buffett, the 81-year-old CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who disclosed Tuesday that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Business News

Apr 18, 2012

At Citigroup's annual meeting Tuesday, 55 percent of shareholders voted against big paychecks for the firms top executives. Citigroup's latest pay package saw the CEO take home some $25 million, despite dwindling share values. The vote is not binding, but analysts call it historic.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 18, 2012



In the world of advertising, the success of a billboard often depends on its location. And in the sporting world, what's a better local than the tall, imposing bodies of professional basketball players - which brings us to our last word in business: basketball billboard.


At an NBA meeting last week, team owners floated the idea of slapping corporate logos on team uniforms.

The turmoil in Europe appears to have died down, at least for now. Interest rates have fallen except for Spain. European Central Bank officials say they have contained the crisis — even if a recession occurs. But not everyone is so sure, and the recent rise in interest rates in Spain is making some investors nervous.



The Supreme Court yesterday handed a victory to the generic drug industry. In a unanimous decision, the high court said generic drug makers can challenge how the big pharmaceutical companies describe their patents to the Food and Drug Administration.

It sounds like an obscure legal battle, but as NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, it has potentially big implications for the industry.

Paul Schubert and his wife decided to buy a new car last summer — a really fuel-efficient one. After a lot of research, they settled on a Toyota Prius. But there was a problem: They couldn't find one.

The tsunami that devastated Japan in March had dried up supplies of the Prius, which is made in Japan, and a dealer told them they would have to wait — "about four months," Schubert says. "And we thought, well, it'd be, probably, end of November, early December before we were going to have a car."

The Schuberts still had a working car.

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a small-business tax cut bill offered up by Republicans. It's just the latest piece of legislation to focus on small businesses, which are widely praised in the political discourse as engines of job creation. The adoration is nearly universal — and it reflects something beyond economic reality.

"Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 jobs in this economy, so our recovery depends on them," President Obama said in 2012 at a New Jersey sandwich shop where he met with small-business owners.

Before Facebook and MySpace transformed how we interact virtually, there was another kind of Internet — a 1980s network, where users connected via phone lines and communicated through simple lines of text.

And while that may sound outdated, that version of the Internet is still very much alive.

'A Lot More Elegant'

Pat McNameeking, a college student in Concord, N.H., is one champion of this throwback social network known as SDF, or Super Dimensional Fortress.

Warren Buffett, 81, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, his Berkshire Hathaway company announced Tuesday afternoon. The cancer is at Stage 1, according to MarketWatch. The billionaire investor's condition is not life-threatening, he says.

Buffett send a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders to inform and reassure them. Here's the text of that letter:

Angry Birds — a mobile phone game in which players use a slingshot to propel birds at tiny little green pigs — has been a runaway hit since its 2009 release, with more than 700 million downloads, a TV show and a feature film in the works. It isn't alone. NPR's Neal Conan talks with New York Times Magazine critic-at-large Sam Anderson about people's fascination with — and addiction to — what Anderson calls "stupid games."

Chrysler, Ford and General Motors gained market share in the past couple years. Helped by Toyota's much-publicized recalls, the problems that Japanese carmakers faced after last year's earthquake and tsunami, and an improving reputation for the quality of American-made vehicles, Detroit's Big Three grabbed 47 percent of sales last year — up from 45.1 percent in 2010 and 44 percent in 2009.

Our friend Micki Maynard of Changing Gears, though, reports that the Detroit companies' comeback — in terms of market share — may be over.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 17, 2012



They say the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But half that statement appears to be under challenge by one late rap star and some special effects, which brings us to today's last word in business - virtual comeback.


TUPAC SHAKUR: (Singing) California love.



President Obama's so-called Buffett rule has slammed into a wall of GOP opposition. On the eve of tax day, Senate Republicans voted yesterday to block a measure that would have made mega-investor Warren Buffett and billionaires and millionaires like him pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. Although Buffett endorses such a rule, Senate Republicans call it an election year gimmick. Their Democratic counterparts insist it's all about fairness. NPR's David Welna has our story.

Business News

Apr 17, 2012

Apple share prices dropped more than 4 percent on the NASDAQ Monday — continuing a five-day decline for the maker of iPads and iPhones. In that span, the company's market value has dropped by almost $60 billion. Analysts say this may just be a price correction but warn that it could drag the markets down with it.

The day that many dread is here: It's Tax Day. Of the 143 million federal tax returns filed last year, more than 80 percent qualified for a refund. Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the economics of tax refunds.

The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.

"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

Jim Yong Kim, 52, who immigrated from Korea at age five, is currently the president of Dartmouth College. He faced an international campaign challenging his nomination to lead the massive global development bank. Kim's selection continues a decades-long tradition of having a U.S. citizen lead the World Bank.

Part of the Family Matters series

The Great Recession slammed into all age groups, flattening the career dreams of young people and squeezing the retirement accounts of middle-aged savers. It financially crippled many elderly people who had thought they could stand on their own.

Family Matters: Meet The Families

Apr 16, 2012

Even as the recovery gains steam, record numbers of people are living under a roof where adult children, middle-aged parents and elderly grandparents must learn to live together. In a series called "Family Matters," NPR's Morning Edition explores the lives of three multigenerational households struggling with issues of money, duty and love.

Another Tech Bubble? Maybe Not

Apr 16, 2012

It's beginning to feel frothy in Silicon Valley. Here are a few numbers:

The Central American nation of Panama is booming. Fueled by a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, a thriving banking industry and capital flight from Venezuela, the tiny nation has the highest economic growth rate in the hemisphere.

But even as the government builds a subway system and markets the country as a tropical paradise for multinational corporations, not everyone is sharing in the prosperity.

World Bank Selects Another American Leader

Apr 16, 2012

The World Bank has named Dr. Jim Yong Kim as its new president. Kim is a Korean-born American and currently the president of Dartmouth University. Kim is a health expert who doesn't have strong finance credentials. Audie Cornish talks with John Ydstie about Kim's appointment.

Foreclosure filings in March fell to their lowest level in four years. Some analysts see the market healing and turning around, yet others argue the next wave of foreclosures are just around the corner. NPR's Chris Arnold discusses how housing markets are faring across the nation.

Business News

Apr 16, 2012

The action by China's central bank widens the range at which the currency can be traded on the international market. The move is seen as seen a step toward addressing foreign complaints that China was suppressing the value of its money to boost Chinese exports, and hurt foreign imports.

'New Rules For Everyday Foodies'

Apr 16, 2012



Let's turn now, to the economics of a good meal. Tyler Cowen is an economist, author of the blog Marginal Revolution, and a serious eater. He seeks to use his understanding of economics to zero in on the best food and best restaurants, and he shares what he's learned in a book called "An Economist Gets Lunch." Cowen is a fan of local food. But for the taste, not because he thinks it will save the world.